Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Islam, Tolerance, and how to have The Conversation


This is the second panel discussion at the Left Forum 2017 which is on a favorite topic of mine: Islam. More specifically, how do we as liberals criticize the bad parts of the religion, without being labeled racist, anti-Muslim bigots? This is a question most liberals struggle to answer. So here, my friends and I, including a former Muslim friend of mine, have what I think amounts to a positive constructive dialogue with a class full of liberals at one of the largest gathering of liberals.

I hope that the word is getting out regarding the problems with the regressive leftist behavior, and that it can actually fuel the Far Right, which is the very thing we don't want. The Left needs to police itself. Liberals are not going to listen to the Right when it comes to the legitimate criticism of the Left. They will only listen to other liberals. And that's why this is important.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Christopher Hitchens vs Larry Taunton | God or No God? Debate


I had gotten to the point where I thought I'd seen every video of Christopher Hitchens talking or debating about religion. But just yesterday I discovered a new one that I hadn't seen. Not long before he died, Hitchens had debated a Christian named Larry Taunton in 2010 who he'd become friends with in his last few years. The debate was never uploaded to YouTube, or at least was not easily findable. Recently, Taunton's company that hosted the debate and produced the video of it, Fixed Point Foundation, uploaded it to their YouTube channel for all to see.

I've actually had to do some studying on why religion is harmful to society because of my upcoming debate on it, and I needed to watch some classic Hitch as a refresher. So here it is, one of Hitchens's last debates. He will surely be missed. Enjoy.



A Homefront Counter-extremism Project: How to defeat the Far Right Insurgency


Back at the 2017 Left Forum I participated in two panel discussions that were recorded. On this first panel discussion, we talk about how to counter the Far Right. I must admit, I did zero preparation work for this, and it wasn't really a topic that I'm particularly passionate about. But I managed to squeak out a few good points. Enjoy.


I will have our video on Islam up tomorrow.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Saudi Arabia Uncovered


They're our Middle Eastern BFF. We just sold them $300 billion worth of weapons that they use to kill civilians. Oh, and they've declared atheists terrorists and execute them. Take a look inside the secretive kingdom in Saudi Arabia Uncovered.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Is Mental Causation verifiable?


Whenever I debate a theist on the topic of mental causation—which almost every theists believes in—I almost always hear the claim that if mental causation exists you wouldn't be able to tell scientifically; the mind is non-material. This strikes me as odd. Why would this be the case? Anything that can affect physical matter is in principle verifiable and open to science. So I thought of this dialogue to show why this view makes no sense:


Person A: The ghost is moving the cup across the table.

Person B: There's no way to tell if the ghost moved the cup across the table because the ghost is non-material.

Person A: What are you talking about? We can see the cup moving across the table with nothing touching it.

Person B: No, it's impossible to tell if a non-material thing affects a physical thing.

Person A: Are you insane? The cup is moving right now and nothing we can see is moving it.

Person B: No, it's impossible to tell if a non-material thing affects a physical thing.

Person A: It's moving! We can see the ghost affecting physical matter, and we've scientifically ruled out all other possibilities.

Person B: No, it's impossible to tell if a non-material thing affects a physical thing.

Person A:

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Muslimish


I attended for the first time the 2017 Muslimish conference in New York a week ago. It's an annual conference highlighting secular voices of ex-Muslims and questioning Muslims. I got to meet the lovely Sarah Haider and Ali Rizvi. There were some really powerful stories told in a section they had about personal experiences growing up with Islam and eventually coming out of it. One woman was beaten by her family for questioning Islam's holy doctrines and is seeking asylum in the US; another woman survived an attempted honor killing by her husband for wanting to divorce her and take custody of their daughter. Now she's gotten sole custody of her daughter and they're both atheists!

It's unbelievable what people have had to go through, especially women, because of religions like Islam. The horror and abuse, the attempts on one's life⸺it all makes me very happy to have been raised in a secular home. I can't even imagine what it must be like to not be free to disbelieve and live your own life as you wish. Millions of secular people like me have taken this for granted. So I support their cause. We have to be able to question ideas, and fundamentally religions are ideas. And no religion deserves to be questioned today more than Islam.

Here are some pics:




Saturday, July 1, 2017

Summer Is Here



It's July, my favorite month. I have very fond memories of July. It's the first full month of summer, right at the beginning of summer vacation. The weather is hot, school was out. We used to play in the playground next to my apartment with our Super Soakers, ride our bikes to the bodega for some quarter-waters, sneak into the pool after hours. As a teen we'd stay out late on those hot summer nights drinking 40s and smoking Marlboros. Ah those were the days.

Summers seemed to last forever when I was a kid. Now they go by in an instant. Once you become an adult summers are a lot like the rest of the year, only hotter. You're working all year long. There's no summer break to distinguish the year. Last year I didn't even take a vacation. So this year I'm going to checkout Europe. I was going to go with a friend who then went silent on me. So I'll be going alone instead, but I'll be meeting up with my sister. It should be fun. I had just realized that I hadn't done much international travelling recently. I've had plans to travel that always fall through because of other people. This year I said fuck it. I'll do it alone.

I won't have cell phone service there but I will try as much as I can to blog the experience. Given the numerous terror attacks in Europe, the fear of dying in a terror attack did cross my mind. It's very unlikely though, but it can happen.

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